NFP is based on an integrative and holistic conceptualization of human sexuality. Sexuality is thought of consisting of spiritual, physical, intellectual, communicative/creative, and emotional components. Sexuality is not just genital intercourse or genital contact.
Couples who use NFP are encouraged to express their sexuality in a non-genital way during times of periodic abstinence. NFP, through the practice of periodic abstinence, provides the couple with an opportunity to develop a holistic expression of sexuality and helps them to have greater control over their physical/sexual drives. NFP also promotes greater understanding, promotes communication and enables a shared responsibility. As self-control is developed over the sexual drive, the genital expression of sexuality becomes more an act of giving and less an act of merely satisfying physical drives. A consequence of this is that there is a less of a chance that one or the other of the marital partners will become solely an object of sexual gratification.
Abstinence also helps the physical expression of sexuality to remain new and not become an everyday occurrence. Couples often refer to this as the "honeymoon effect" of NFP.
Fertility monitoring and periodic abstinence for some couples can lead to frustrations over daily monitoring, stress over the possibility of becoming pregnant and a perceived lack of spontaneity. This experienced frustration is most likely to happen with couples or individual members of a couple who have not learned to integrate their fertility. However, for most couples, fertility monitoring and the practice of periodic abstinence result in a greater understanding of fertility and in greater communication. Communication occurs because couples need to discuss on a day-to-day basis their intention of using their fertility to achieve or avoid pregnancy. This communication then leads to sharing information, to making mutual decisions and to mutual trust.
If a couple is using a method of NFP to avoid pregnancy, there are times when they have to experience abstinence from intercourse and genital contact. The practice of periodic continence not only helps the husband and wife develop sexual self control but also challenges them to develop other means of expressing their intimacy, e.g., through spiritual means (such as praying together), by physical means other than genital (such as hugging, kissing or just holding one another), intellectual means (such as sharing and discussing a good book, article or movie), by communicating with one another their plans and goals in life and/or by sharing their emotions and feelings. By being more diverse in expressing a broader sexuality the couple will become more sexually mature, come closer together and experience a deeper understanding and peace.
Learning to live with the rhythms of life is important for a married couple. One of those rhythms is the time of fertility and infertility in a woman's menstrual cycle. Married couples who use NFP to monitor their cycles will be aware of those times of fertility and infertility. By sharing these times with each other they are able to totally give of themselves and to make shared decisions of their intentions. When the NFP couple experiences the fertile time, they realize the awesomeness of that time in that they have the potential to create new human life. This power is best exercised in the context of love between two married individuals in a co-creative relationship with God.